Shannon Mayernik is a farmer, herbalist, and plant medicine maker who owns a shop in New Jersey featuring all of her and her husband's tinctures, teas, and natural herbal products. Shannon has 14+ years experience and is a wealth of knowledge I hope you will turn to. Find her on Instagram @mayernikkitchen or on-line at www.mayernikkitchen.com.
Weeds, those pesky plants that everyone wants to get rid of. The dandelions make the lawn look messy, the ground ivy is creeping all over the landscape and let’s not get into the chickweed that grows everywhere in my raised garden boxes in early spring.
We’ve heard it all. Invasive. Looks messy. So hard to control.
But to us at Mayernik Kitchen, we see medicine and wild food. As herbalists and plant medicine makers, we love the weeds! We love being able to walk out our backdoor and know we have many plants growing, all on their own, that can help with our everyday ailments; headaches, digestion, anxiety, and sleep issues.
Now I know what you may be thinking. You’ve got a whole linen closet filled with bottles from your local pharmacy that can help with those ailments and you don’t have to go pick your weeds to feel better.
But let me indulge you for a bit. The plants growing in your backyard, garden beds or surrounding your home are there for a reason. They are there to help you and if you just give me a few moments, hopefully I can change your mind about those unwanted weeds you have growing.
Let’s start with dandelions. Those bright sunshiny flowers are one of the first flowers your local bees get to start pollinating. The bees have been cooped up all winter and when spring starts to emerge, they hit the dandelion flowers first. Imagine leaving those flowers for the bees for one of their first harvests of the season?! Dandelion is a plant you can use from the roots to the flowers, so the whole plant is indeed edible. The roots are great for digestion, the leaves are tasty in a salad and the flowers can be used to make fritters, sweet desserts, and wine. Yup, dandelion flower wine!
Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, and Gill-of-the-Ground (it has many names) is also a spring “weed” that can be used as tea or dried to make an herbal steam. Ground Ivy is a member of the mint family and is a great plant ally for respiratory issues. It is also anti-inflammatory and can help with digestion (just like many other mints). You’ll find this scallop-edged leaf with tiny purple flowers creeping low to the ground, just like a ground cover. Don’t pull it up. Get to know it and start incorporating it into your lifestyle.
The last one that tends to really bother some folks is chickweed. Chickweed is a great edible weed. It’s like free microgreens, growing right in your garden. We love adding it to salads, and sandwiches and even enjoying it by the handful. Chickweed is moistening and cooling and is great for inflammation as well as thyroid issues.
I hope this gives a little peek into the world of being an herbalist and how we view weeds. We always turn to our backyards, gardens, and forests to find the medicine we need, and believe me, the plants tend to show up for you when you need them the most.
Thanks a million, Shannon! xoxo, Farm Girl